Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Oh, hell no!

I am so disturbed.  For the last couple of days my heart has been heavy and my thoughts have been
troubled.  I suppose it is related to the George Zimmerman trial and the killing of Trayvon Martin.  But it really stems more from a blog post I read, written by a woman who bills herself as "an angry black woman".

She is very well spoken and has obviously given a lot of thought to all of this, what she wrote was not off the cuff or a rant.  It sounds like she is ex-military which I respect very much, and well educated.  She is also very thoughtful, and believes whole-heartedly that she is doing the very best for her child.

But.

Her 6 year old son at learning about slavery and Abraham Lincoln inquired of his mother whether people still hate them - and if they are still slaves.  She put off answering him directly until she could think about it and came to the conclusion that she would tell her child that yes, people will hate him because of the color of his skin.  And yes, they are still slaves because of white privilege and a culture of intolerance, basically.  She went on to talk about how America is not there for her or her son, for gays or Muslims or pretty much anyone other than male, white, Christians.  In her eyes America is a pretty bad place to live if you're not a white guy who worships Jesus.

Normally I would not comment on a post that is so diametrically opposed to my opinions or experience.  But this disturbed me so much I felt compelled to.  I said how sad it made me that she would teach her son that people hate him - and I said she could not speak for me or anyone else, any more than we can speak for her.  I do not hate people because of their differences.  I try to take people on a case by case basis.  And white privilege?  I have been reading up on it the last few days because I wanted to see what different people said about it, see several perspectives and really try to understand - even though I can never truly relate to it.  And my opinion (as unpopular as it may be to say it out loud) is that I am sure white privilege existed 30 years ago.  But if it exists now it is because of the culture of victimization and perpetuation of things like "yes Honey, people hate you because of the color of your skin".  That culture says to me - that no matter what I say (I don't hate you), or what my actions are, down deep I really do hate people who are black, brown, or different from me culturally.  I don't even get a chance to like or care about them right from the get-go because I have white skin and light eyes.

The irony does not escape me.

I went on and said that yes, some blacks are feared because of some of the hip-hop and rap culture of violence, and the thug life they promote.  They take pictures of themselves with guns, drugs, and sing about killing cops and having sex.  Not just a few have been arrested for drug and violent offenses.  No shame in it, either.  Many youths emulate these people and aspire to be cool and tough and it is foreign to many people like me.  And it can appear quite frightening.  But we are not supposed to react to that - if we are frightened or nervous around say - 3 young black men with their pants down to where, hats on sideways and gold in their mouth - it is obviously because we are racist, not because the boys are throwing an attitude that is meant to be threatening or aggressive.  It is because of their manner, how they represent themselves that we might give them a wide berth.  You could take a wonderfully gentle and smart guy and dress him like that and show him how to display the attitude - and he would look scary too.

But I'm not supposed to say that because I am white and that would be racist.

There is so much involved, not the least of which is poverty - and so many kids being raised without fathers in the home.  Welfare has arguably caused the death of the family unit - for many in poverty. So I cannot even come close to writing about all that is involved with race relations in the U.S.  I just think we have made a lot more progress than is recognized or acknowledged.  And passing down the message of hate from one
generation to the next perpetuates an evil we have been trying to eradicate for years and years.  Why do people who believe they have been oppressed, want to pass that down to their kids?  One thing is clear, racism is learned.  Children do not come out of the womb hating people.  And while our culture is still not where it should be, teaching children that racism is automatic is simply wrong and will not allow those children to move past the issue of race.

I mentioned how President Obama being elected by whites as well as blacks should show something.  But when I object to something the president does - I am accused of hating the black man in the white house.  Truth is, I don't give a damn what color the man is, I think he's as close to being a socialist as any president we've ever had!  Nothing to do with his race.  But it is assumed that anyone who thinks Obama is a bad president is a racist.  It's that automatic assumption again. So what does that make people who think George Bush was a bad president?  Not automatically racist, that's for sure.

The blog post talked about encouraging her son to make something of his life, how he can be something other than (white approved careers) a rap artist or an athlete.  She also talked about how he will have to fight for it, will have to be twice as good as the white men he may be competing with, how he will have to be strong and work harder - because he is black. She spoke on teaching her son to be a good and moral man which is certainly a good thing. But the message that he is hated does not go hand in hand with all the good things she wants to teach him.

And it's sad.

Not racist and not hated
Her son will go out into the world with a preconceived notion that nothing will ever be easy or fair for him.  That he will be hampered by people who he believes view him as "less than".  And what does it do to the psyche of a small child to believe from 6 years on (true or not) - that people view him as inferior?  What does that implant in that young man's brain, no matter how many good things he is taught as well?  How will he ever be able to like or trust whites if he believes they hate him?  That generational message is what turns so many things into racial issues when they really aren't.  It is a perception.  Like the George Zimmerman trial - blacks believe Trayvon Martin was profiled and killed because he was black, even though there is no evidence to show that.  While many whites (or white Hispanics as the news media calls George Zimmerman) believe he might have been profiled - but not because he was black.  Profiled as a youth out at night in a dark area close to buildings that had been broken into recently.  It was raining and he was walking slowly, with no urgency which drew Zimmerman's attention to him.  George Zimmerman saw a kid who might be a burglar.  He didn't see a black kid until the 911 operator asked him what the race of the person was. That Trayvon Martin was killed because he was black is an automatic assumption that has nothing to do with the facts.  But it is taken as truth.

There is an automatic response in certain parts of the black community, that when something bad happens - it is because of racism.  And when that card comes out - the facts of whatever it is - go out the window and the story is clouded by hurt.

I learned on Twitter the other day (the main source of information these days, right?) that "blacks cannot be racist because whites started it all with slavery"!  Slavery?  Really?  An abominable thing, certainly.  Worse than that, incomprehensible, I can't even describe what a horrible thing it was - the very idea of owning a human being.  But it's over.  I cannot pay for something I had nothing to do with - forever.  I cannot pay for a hatred I do not have for someone.  Jim Crow?  Horrible. But it was never part of my reality, my experience as an American.  That doesn't discount other people's experiences, but the younger generation that is still using it as a shield - did not experience it either.  And being an oppressed group historically does not exempt that group from being racist now.

I am not racist, I do not hate groups of people because they are different from me.  There will always be cultural differences where many times we will not understand or relate to each other.  But hate?  No, not on my part.  Resentment?  If I am honest I have to say yes, resentment because I am accused of something because of history, for the actions of others. I am accused of something I cannot disprove - and I am damned tired of it. I cannot carry that burden because it is not mine to carry.  It is history.  And we need to move forward and learn from that history, never forget and never repeat it.  But punishing the white community for the sins of their fathers does not heal the wounds.

No one can say that racists do not exist.  There are still ignorant and repulsive people out there who just don't learn.  But it's not institutional as many believe, and certainly not automatic thinking simply because someone is white. It also does not make racism right for blacks - because they were discriminated against in the past.  Bad acts in the past do not excuse bad acts in the present or future.

My comment on the blog post was totally negated by telling me I had missed her point and ignored her reality.  But isn't that what happens when I or others like me say we are not racists?  We practically aren't ALLOWED to say it and we certainly aren't believed.  And if some member of the black community does believe us - they say it doesn't matter anyway because we still benefit from unearned privileges because we are white.  And many times they are turned on by the black community.  Sigh-h-h.  Makes me wonder if we can ever get past this.

I carry something around in my purse still on the lined notebook paper I copied it onto in high school.  No idea where it originated from now, but it reminds me of this woman's son, in a way.

I don't cause teachers trouble.
SO MUCH HOPE!
My grades have been okay.
I listen in my classes,
And I'm in school every day.
My teachers say I'm average
My parents think so too.
I wish I didn't know that,
'Cause there's lots I'd like to do.
I'd like to build a rocket.
I've a book that tells you how;
And start a stamp collection;
Well, no use in trying now.
'Cause since I found I'm average
I'm just smart enough to see
It means there's nothing special
That I should expect of me.

Tell a kid he's average and what pushes him to excel?  Tell a kid he's hated, what reason would he have to disbelieve it and break the cycle?

Seriously, I have been walking around for a few days with this knot in my stomach as my thoughts go back to the idea of teaching a child that people hate him because of his color.  It is not my experience.  It is that lady's experience and her reality.  I cannot tell her how to raise her child or what to teach him.  But I can feel grief at the idea that while she believes she is imparting wisdom that is helping him be prepared for life, she is really handicapping him and not letting him have his own experience and create his own reality.

If allowed, he might find his reality very different from hers - and that might be progress.

*Footnote for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton
Not friends of the black community

There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.
Ch. V: The Intellectuals and the Boston Mob (pg. 118)
~ Booker T. Washington (1911)


12 comments:

  1. Amen! I couldn't touch that even with a grammar checker. Great job, glad to know I have a friend who feels the same way I do. I spent the better part of 4 months in the US and the only time I was confronted with racism was with black people themselves, they are alienating themselves because of past history that they didn't experience.

    I think things will only get worse before them get better and we have all had our experiences, but do we carry them into our present day, day by day? No. Racism is stupid, and you can't fix stupid, I figured that out a long time ago.

    I think this women has made a mistake predicting this little guys path before he has a chance to walk it himself. I often wonder why it is that black people feel they have grievances or an ax to grind because of past history. I've even seen segregation more so than I've seen growing up and going to school myself. If we have learned anything from History it is that it repeats itself. Sad, but if you teach hate you hate. Sometimes I just wish there was a pill for that and the cure could move us forward.

    Your post was excellent, the poem you carry is amazing. Your a pretty good writer as well. But did I think it was because you were a privileged white spoiled girl who got to learn in school while others had to work in a field? No not at all. I don't think that way, however sadly others do. Like I said you can't fix stupid....good post

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    1. Just be careful Cindy - I'm sure I'm a certified racist now. Guilt by association ...

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  2. Well said. I can't add anything to that except that it's so sad to teach a child that there is racism and that white people will be against him because of the color of his skin.

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    1. I know. And I hate that it's considered insensitive and wrong to say it. ;(

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  3. As an old fellow … and one who has fought for America in order that people, black or white, can have views disparate from my own. But I will go so far as to say that the problem isn’t you, Betty Jo. Nor is it “White America.” The problem is that there are black Americans who have swallowed the leftist bile about white oppression so that these people, for several generations now, have enslaved themselves.

    The truth of the matter is that this lady you are speaking about, and far too many just like her, no longer see themselves as our fellow Americans. They see themselves as victims; everything about their lives is about self-victimization. It is to the extent now that they simply are unable to see themselves in any other light. And while it is certainly true that blacks have been victimized by whites, let us recall that they were white democrats … not republicans.

    Let us also recall that Martin Luther King admonished us, to judge a man by the content of his character. How then should we judge Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Eric Holder, Benjamin Justice, or a host of other race baiters and race haters? It is true that they hate so much, they cannot allow themselves to believe the truth about George Zimmerman, who was exceedingly kind toward his fellow citizens with black skin. No, don’t take my word for it: read the FBI report.

    I will only say one more thing: what kind of mother teaches her son to grow up hating any one? Not an American mother … no, not that.

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    1. Much more elegantly said than I ever could. Her post was titled "America isn't there for me" - which is exactly what you said. So incredibly sad. But - she would defend herself by saying she is not teaching her son to hate, merely preparing him for those that would hate him. Obviously that breeds hate, but she sees it as self defense. Self defense, something George Zimmerman obviously had no right to.

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  4. What this woman is doing is the same thing we find among the moslems, who poison the minds of their children so that they will grow up hating Christians and Jews and Americans. A pox on them all.

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    1. I know intellectually that there will always be hate in the world. But I wouldn't want to discount a whole group of people for it. My heart wants to say - cant we all just get along?

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  5. You've expressed my thoughts, exactly. I love your picture of the two babies. I saw a picture of a pair of toddlers yesterday. One was white, and the other was black. They were playing and laughing together. I shared it with a comment about how we should all be able to be friends like that. My daughter, when she had her son, who was around 2, was waiting for the docking of the ship her husband was on. He was playing with a little black girl, and having so much fun. My daughter made the comment that it was great that they were color blind. The little girl's mother went 'off' on my daughter. That was 18 years ago, and it hasn't changed. We have a son who married a black woman, with 3 children. They are loved and accepted by our family, and our extended family.

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    1. Apparently there is no winning here. I don't like that I feel resentment about this. But it seems the only other choice is white guilt and I won't take that on.

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  6. I, for one, am tired of white guilt being foisted on me. Yes, slavery was a terrible evil, but none of my ancestors held slaves. I resent being stereotyped by angry blacks.

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    1. ..and they would say now we know how they feel. It's a circle and I don't see an end to it.

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